6 Here be Dragons

Cartographers in the 1700s (and earlier) would often mark uncharted territory with depictions of dragons, serpents and other sea monsters.[1] ‘Here be dragons', some maps would warn. Now the saying is used metaphorically to warn people away from unexplored areas, or pathways that haven't been tested.

In coding, the expression is sometimes used to warn folks about particularly complex or obscure passages of open source code. In version 3.5 of the Mozilla Firefox browser, for example, ‘Here be Dragons' appeared when users typed ‘about: config' into the address bar.[2] By Firefox placing a warning like this, other coders knew that if they proceeded, they needed to act wisely and with care. While many avoid tinkering within such passages of code, more adventurous coders prefer to explore these areas. Indeed, by proceeding through this more challenging code, they may be able to clarify elements of it — and therefore make the path safer for others.[3]

And so, this chapter is my warning to you: there be dragons ahead.[4]


The path to meaningful progress is frequently non-linear, uphill and against the grain, full of doubt and uncertainty, and fraught with dead ends, setbacks and failure. Why on Earth would anyone want to take that path?[5]

Pioneering leadership enables and empowers folks to find a way through, shining a light on the path for others. But ...

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